'Huge milestone': World agrees to end plastic pollution

·2-min read

Plastic pollution could be history after a United Nations agreement was reached this week.

With scientists predicting plastic waste will quadruple by 2050, the agreement has been hailed as a "milestone" by conservationists.

It's estimated that Australians already consume 2000 tiny pieces of plastic each week, so observers say the agreement cannot come soon enough.

The United Nations has agreed to work towards a plastics pollution treaty. Source: Getty / AAP
The United Nations has agreed to work towards a plastics pollution treaty. Source: Getty / AAP

The talks, held in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, saw 174 member nations vote to work towards a legally binding treaty. No states objected to the decision.

Negotiators will forge ahead over the next two years to create resolutions that will address the entire lifecycle of plastic.

The treaty will likely address both ocean and land plastic pollution and could result in the formation of a dedicated global plastic waste fighting fund.

Australia praised for work negotiating plastic treaty

Although Australia’s delegation did not attend the UN Environment Assembly talks in person, they were widely praised on Thursday by conservation groups for taking a “constructive” approach.

Kate Noble from WWF-Australia said widespread support across the nation for a treaty has helped motivate strong political will on the issue.

“This is a huge milestone of which we should all be very proud. Now the real work of making it happen starts,” she said.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s office characterised the outcome as “historic”, but she added there is “more to do” in terms of tackling the issue.

“Fourteen million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year, leaching harmful chemicals and breaking down into microplastics that are ingested by marine life,” she said.

Plastic treaty could see 80 per cent pollution cut

If successful, the treaty could see plastic pollution reduced by 80 per cent, and virgin plastic cut by 55 per cent.

Plastic production will likely quadruple by 2050. Source: AAP
Plastic production will likely quadruple by 2050. Source: AAP

The UN argues this outcome would be financially beneficial, and saving governments across the globe close to $100 billion by 2040.

Environmentalists from Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) hailed the agreement as a “crucial step” towards protecting ocean wildlife from “drowning in plastic”.

“This plastics treaty has the potential to be the most significant global environmental accord since the Paris agreement,” AMCS pollution expert Shane Cucow said.

“While most of the plastics on our coasts originate in Australia, some of our wildest places… accumulate vast amounts of plastics and lost fishing gear that originate from around the world.”

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.